One of Washington’s most spectacular divorce settlements went down on Monday.
Roy and Mary Dwyer, who each own the Pantheon art gallery and the art gallery they formed, were forced to sell 18 paintings to avoid jail time in a Washington federal court. The auction was meant to pay the bulk of the $66 million in fines levied by the court against the couple for ignoring their responsibilities.
The sale was expected to bring in $676 million, which the judge approved as the amount of the guilty verdict in the criminal case against the two. Roy Dwyer is estimated to be worth $1.9 billion.
The art sale is the largest settlement in the history of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the judge presiding over the case said in her order approving the sale.
The couple began fighting during their divorce trial in 2009, and the trial was originally set to go to trial in 2011, but the Dwyers were resolved to settle before trial. They began fighting earlier because their longtime objects included tens of thousands of valuable works of art. The trial lasted six months.
The court issued a judgment in 2013, but the couple continued fighting and it eventually was ruled that only Roy Dwyer would have to pay all of the costs. According to a report by Vanity Fair, the trial centered on a single painting in particular, by Rembrandt van Rijn: “Titles Affixed,” which had sold in 1985 for $16 million. An old appraiser was hired by Roy Dwyer to provide an appraisal and he concluded that the price paid for the painting had to have been more than $58 million. This is the painting that the Dwyers were fighting over, and Roy Dwyer in particular took great umbrage that the original price was being questioned as there was no record of the painting being sold.
The Dwyers fought as the two sides were unable to resolve who would pay the new total. When Roy Dwyer did not pay, the criminal case against him was pursued. He pleaded guilty to fraud in 2011 and in 2012 the court ordered him to pay $3.25 million to Mary Dwyer. At trial, the court found that Roy Dwyer owed Mary Dwyer a total of $11.8 million in damages for withdrawing money from a joint bank account to pay himself.
Mary Dwyer, 75, received $3.75 million for the paintings bought from the couple’s art galleries. She also received $88 million in equity in the time period ending December 31, 2006, and $100 million from the couple’s art collection. She kept the balance of $27 million.
Roy Dwyer paid another $39 million in premiums to insurance companies. The Dwyers put in for 12 days of community service at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Archives and $95,500 for visitation to their residence at 930 Wisconsin Ave., Washington, D.C. They donated two Raddison Chairs worth $2 million to Virginia Commonwealth University in their names, respectively.
Roy Dwyer paid $7.7 million to the government and spent 10 days in jail, from July 22 through Sept. 22, 2012.
The Dwyers split their time between Bermuda and Germany, and Mary Dwyer took a job in the film industry. They continue to visit family in Washington. Roy Dwyer is a longtime supporter of LGBT causes.